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AltAusterity Digest #63 August 30 - September 5, 2018

This week in Austerity News:

Sep 07, 2018

Prior to receiving a US $50bn bailout from the IMF, Argentinian President Mauricio Macri announced that the government will be slashing spending and raising export taxes in an attempt to reduce the budget deficit. Despite the news of new austerity measures, the Argentinian peso continued its downward fall, sliding 4% even further against the dollar. Argentina is one of several countries to feel the squeeze brought on by an appreciating dollar and rising interest rates in the US. Turkey and South Africa have also found it more difficult to repay their debts in USD as the value of their currencies decline in relative terms.

A New York Times article examines labour relations in US federal agencies. In May, the Trump administration put forward three executive orders which were directed towards agencies taking a hardline approach towards employees and their unions. Changes included reducing the time it takes to fire an employee for performance indicators, restricting access to union office space, and reducing book-off time for union officials. While these executive orders were recently rebuffed in the courts, the changes have implications for bargaining. When it comes to bargaining in such a climate, management may be able to declare an impasse, leading to a presidentially appointed panel imposing an agreement.

The Washington Post looks at how changes in the labour market have downgraded former middle-class jobs. To do so, they look at six jobs not requiring a college degree that provided above-average weekly earnings in the 1990s, but now pay less than an average. For non-managerial employees, jobs in sound recording, warehousing and storage, food manufacturing, motor vehicle and parts dealers, repair and maintenance, and wood products all yield less earnings than the US average. In terms of labour market restructuring, changes to more precarious forms of employment, reductions in union participation, technological advancements and foreign competition are highlighted as some of the driving forces behind the declining wages.

A massive fire at Brazil’s National Museum is being blamed on years of budget cuts that left the building in a vulnerable state. Housing over 20 million artifacts, officials have said that as much as 90 percent of the pieces have been destroyed. While the official cause of the fire is still unknown, officials have said that it was a “tragedy” that could have been avoided. Following the blaze being extinguished, protesters gathered at the museum gates in response to the country’s rising violence, political corruption, and the damaging effects of austerity. Police in riot gear responded, firing tear gas into the crowd.

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